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Recordings

Verdi Gala 2004
25 Aug 2006

Verdi Gala 2004 Teatro Regio di Parma

In recent European reviews, Teatro Regio di Parma’s DVD of their 2004 Verdi Gala was generally labeled as worthless.

Verdi Gala 2004 Teatro Regio di Parma

Adriana Damato, Tiziana Fabbricini, Alessandra Rezza, José Cura, Zvetan Michailov, Le Nucci, Vladimir Stefano, Riccardo Zanellato, Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Regio conducted by Renato Palumbo

Dynamic 33475 [DVD]

$30.99  Click to buy

They deduced that the poor singing and poor voiced directly resulted in a poor performance. Indeed, they are right, though in my opinion it was the absence of integrity toward the music that was the true culprit.

Take the liner notes, for example, typically informative and poignant with Dynamic recordings. However, it never mentions which singer sings what! For that information, you must watch the DVD itself and jot down yourself the name of the singer next to their corresponding aria in the notes. And then we come to the role of the video director, a certain Marco Scalfi. Following the current trends of European directing, Scalfi has decided to put his own peculiar stamp on his work, even in such a simple event as an operatic concert. You don’t just get a pan of the stage or a close-up of the singer- no- there are close-ups of the orchestra, the conductor, and other contrived cinematography that is quite distracting from the matter at hand- the music. This may been seen as vivid directing, but the chaotic proceedings is much too distracting.

On the musical side of things, this performance offers much more. This is not Verdi singing on the most exalted level, certainly. The days of Bergonzi, Price and tutti quanti are over. Still, this performance renders utter conviction, emotional grounding, and well-suited voices for the repertoire, all of which create an elusive white heat, something that is often conspicuously lacking nowadays. In short, this performance harkens to an era where Verdi and Italian singers were almost interchangeable ideas.

Here the soprano, Alessandra Rezza, has true potential. The coloratura in Attila is somewhat sketchy, and in both her big Attila and Macbeth scenes the voice flattens at the top. However, she throws herself entirely in the music, and her voice is full of metal, yet achieves still more vibrato at the top. One is reminded of the many formidable spintos of the fifties and sixties: flawed maybe, but always exciting. Names like Mancini and Marcella De Osma spring to mind.

Adriana Damato, however, belongs more to the modern era. She is more restrained, respecting the line of Giovanna d’Arco. Her lyicical sound is less strident, but also less gripping. José Cura is on his “best behavior.” Often his eyes are glued to the score, always fiddling with his glasses. In “Tutto parea sorridere” he suddenly appears with no score and no glasses—probably that’s the one aria he knows by heart. His lack of sensitivity in the duet from Giovanna d’Arco is quite evident. He uses mezza voce in abundance, and cannot achieve a clear legato line. He fares far better in the forceful aria and cabaletta from Attila where his glottal attacks and more stylistically correct. Veteran Leo Nucci is still signing strong after a 37-year career. His breath is inexhaustible, and the top rings free in Attila and Macbeth. True, some of the colors in the voice and ringing overtones have worn off, but the conviction and grand manner are still there.

This performance is more than just a string of arias and duets. The offerings not only represent Macbeth, but also rare operas such as Giovanna d’Arco, Attila, Masnadieri, and Corsaro. Every offering is complete with chorus and comprimarri. Even some good singers like Riccardo Zanellato, or the impressive Vladimir Stoyanov appear in duets with one of the star singers, or as part of the concertato. Yet as I said before, this DVD’s production was not perfection, musically I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Jan Neckers

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